359 The Temple Mount in the Lowlands

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem exercises a bewitching lure over Jews, Muslims and Christians. Not even the famously sober Dutch Calvinists could escape its spell. At least four seventeenth-century churches in the Republic were identified in form with the Temple. So was the Portuguese synagogue in Amsterdam. As similar as these features of the churches and the synagogue may look, the meanings they convey are antithetical.

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The Temple Mount in the Lowlands

Talk of iconic! What could be more so than the Temple in Jerusalem? Countless are the chapels, churches, synagogues, mosques and palaces modelled on an idea of what the Temple of Solomon looked like, measured or meant. The Reformed Christians of the Dutch Republic were just as susceptible to the sacred mystery of the Temple as Catholics, Muslims and Jews in their own worlds. This study shows how reconstructions of the Temple on paper (by Spanish Jesuits in 1595) and in a famous model (by a Dutch Jew in the 1640s) affected the form of church, synagogue and palace architecture and decoration in the mid-seventeenth-century Netherlands.

Gary Schwartz, “The Temple Mount in the Lowlands,” from: The Dutch intersection: the Jews and the Netherlands in modern history, edited by Yosef Kaplan, Leiden and Boston (Brill) 2008, pp. 111-21. The proceedings of the Tenth International Symposium on the History of the Jews in the Netherlands, held in Jerusalem in 2004

Download pdf  and read it alongside the illustrations below.

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353 Back to/from Poland

With a family history in Poland and the encumbrance of the Holocaust, Schwartz cannot visit that country like a casual tourist. A professional congress brought him to Warsaw for four days, where his ignorance of his antecedents came back to oppress him. Personal, scholarly and professional feelings become crossed and confused.
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335 A Hebrew Bible page for Paul Huvenne

On the retirement of Paul Huvenne as director of the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen, the museum offered him a surprise friendship album with contributions by 76 colleagues and friends, mainly art historians and artists. The theme, as I reported in the postscript to Schwartzlist 334, was Beelddenken – thinking in images. The book opens with Paul’s own definition of the word: “Beelddenken is the ability to form and develop thoughts in wordless images and to picture, express and communicate them directly. In Western culture, thinking in images is the repudiated opponent of thinking in words. This bypasses the fact that most words are image thoughts and that the most abstract concepts are easier imagined than articulated.” The engaging and dedicated young woman who thought up and edited the volume, Katharina van Cauteren, to whom the authors as well as the dedicatee are deeply indebted, asked the contributors to write brief reflections on any visual object of their choice, not necessarily a work of art. Continue reading “335 A Hebrew Bible page for Paul Huvenne”

309 Pseudo-Semitism

As a reader of Hebrew, Schwartz has long been intrigued by the occurrence of lettering in that language in works of art. He examines a sample of works from the 15th century, now on view in Bruges, to find out how much Hebrew they contain and whether it means anything, either as text or as a symptom of Jewish-Christian relations. His conclusion: it means neither. Continue reading “309 Pseudo-Semitism”

276 Non-Jewish museums

The historical museums of Europe ignore minorities and therefore lend implicit support to xenophobic national self-images. The rise of high-quality Jewish museums serves as an excuse for historical museums to eliminate the Jewish dimension of European history from their displays. A campaign to redress the balance is called for. Continue reading “276 Non-Jewish museums”